On Memorial and Flag Day we all reflected on the honorable men and
women who served our country and state. My administration is working
towards further honoring those who served and have committed ourselves
to the funding of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs this year.
This means that the department can continue to expand Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder Services and the toll free hotline in order to meet demand
from returning veterans from the Global War on Terrorism. Full funding also
means the department can ensure adequate staffing for the three elderly
care memorial homes, as well as increasing upkeep and maintenance of the
BG Doyle Veterans Cemetery. Veterans Service Officers will also be funded
throughout the state in order to assist in filing claims and answering questions
about state and federal benefits.
Other than simply ensuring that current programs remain in top form, we are also dedicated to improving and
offering more and better services to our veterans. I would like to outline a few of our major goals and coming
improvements in the next few years:
There are approximately 8,000 homeless veterans in New Jersey today. My administration is committed foremost,
to seeking out these veterans and ensuring that New Jersey does not leave those who proudly served our country
without the proper treatment and care they deserve. Accordingly, we are allocating $2 million dollars towards
expanding current transitional housing programs for homeless veterans, while exploring the possibility of opening
another facility in the northern half of the state. We are looking into the opportunities that might exist at Ft.
Monmouth for a second home.
Plans are underway for a "Commission of Women's Veterans," which would focus on the specific needs of the
growing number of women who make up the veteran population.
In order to help returning soldiers find jobs after their service, I have endorsed the "Helmets to Hardhats"
program. Also, to honor the deeds of those in WWII, the state of NJ has designated $2 million for the construction
of a WWII monument in Trenton. A commission has been set up in order to raise the additional $5 million necessary
for the project. Funding is to be completed by Memorial Day 2007, with construction of the memorial to be finished
by Memorial Day 2008.
Outreach remains a high priority of our administration. We want to ensure that every veteran in NJ knows and
understands what their federal and state benefits are, and ensure that every veteran who has a service connected
disability is aware of the VA claims procedures. Therefore, we are also looking for the 12,000 NJ veterans with
service-connected disabilities who have not yet filed a claim and are receiving no compensation.
Thank you for your service to our country and the state of New Jersey. It is my honor to work with you in
improving the care of our veteran population.